Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is currently working on South Africa’s new level 3 lockdown rules.
Dlamini-Zuma was due to appear in a virtual parliamentary meeting on Monday (19 May), but had to be excused as she was busy with the urgent drafting of amendments to the Disaster Management Act, said committee chairperson, China Dodovu.
In line with an announcement made by president Cyril Ramaphosa last week, Dlamini-Zuma is also expected to publish new directives around the relaxation of existing level 4 lockdown restrictions.
This is set to include an expansion of the permitted business activities in the retail space as well as fewer restrictions on exercise.
No deadline has been provided for the introduction of these new regulations, however, president Ramaphosa has indicated that most of the country will move to level 3 lockdown before the end of May.
Speaking in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday (13 May), Ramaphosa said that this easing will be area-specific as there a number of coronavirus ‘hotspots’ in the country.
He noted that coronavirus infections are primarily concentrated in a few municipalities and that these areas will remain at lockdown level 4.
The president also admitted that implementation around coronavirus related laws has at times been slow, and enforcement inconsistent and harsh.
“Some of the actions we have taken have been unclear, some have been contradictory and some have been poorly explained. Implementation has sometimes been slow and enforcement has sometimes been inconsistent and too harsh.
“We are committed to ensuring that all decisions are rational and reasonable,” the president said.
While it is not clear how the government will regulate which districts will remain at higher lockdown levels, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has outlined how South Africa’s new district-based lockdown will work.
Mkhize said that the government has tracked the rate of infection at a per-population basis, with a number of metropolitan areas highlighted as areas of concern.
He noted that these are also largely the areas with high economic activity. The areas specifically mentioned by Mkhize include:
- Cape Town;
- The Garden Route;
- Nelson Mandela Bay;
- Durban (eThekwini);
- Mangaung (Bloemfontein)
Mkhize said that government plans to monitor all of the above areas, and cannot allow the relaxation of restrictions in these districts.
“We will need to bring in a new strategy wherein each of the districts or metros are sub-divided into clusters of wards where we will station a multi-disciplinary team of experts.”
He added that each of these districts will be awarded an individual lockdown level based on the reported number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. These levels will then be reviewed by the government every two weeks.
“Depending on the average active cases per 100,000 people, districts will be individually assigned levels of lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus,” Mkhize said.